Stef Janssen, rechtsweb.nl

This website contains useful files that were generated for the Master Thesis of Stef Janssen. The title of the thesis is "Creating a Legal Support System for Judges, A Case Study in Dutch Rental Law".

The abstract of the thesis can be found below, while the files can be downloaded using the links on the left.

The author can be contacted on the email address: sam.janssen@alumni.maastrichtuniversity.nl.


Stef Janssen, rechtsweb.nl

The Legal Support System is a system built for automating the judgment of simple rental cases in Dutch law. It consists out of three modules: an ontology, a logical representation and a reasoning module. The ontology forms the backbone of the system, as it formalizes relevant concepts found in rental cases. It is used as a framework for the input of a rental case. It further forms the input for the other modules of the system.

The logical representation describes all aspects of a legal case (the case and the legal sources) in a logical language. This, in turn, is provided to the reasoning module, which finally determines a judgment for the legal case. It was found that the Legal Support System is able to correctly judge several small rental cases. Its design provides a more flexible input mechanism than most other legal support systems found in literature. Those systems often provide the user with closed questions, leading to limited input capabilities. In the Legal Support System, the user is able to enter any input within the framework provided by the ontology. Further, the reasoning module provides the user with a motivation of its judgments, leading to a better understanding of the judgment of the system.

The Legal Support System is designed to be a framework for all areas of law. It is easily extendable by adding concepts, laws and case laws to the system. It is also easily adaptable to account for changes in law or interpretations of law. Some problems with the Legal Support System exists as well. The input to the system is limited to the concepts found in the ontology. This means that some cases cannot be represented by the system, and can therefore not be judged. The concepts in the ontology form a fixed aspect of the Legal Support System. This means that it is impossible to dispute the definition found in the ontology. In turn, legal cases in which the dispute is about the definition of a concept, cannot be represented in the system.

Another problem concerns the formalizations of the law. Many laws are formulated using complex sentences and are subject to interpretation of judges. This makes it hard to translate those laws into the logical representation found in the Legal Support System.